Using Technology to Prevent Disease from Spreading
The transmission of many animal diseases—particularly those affecting fish in the important and growing aquaculture food production sector—is poorly understood. This lack of knowledge affects not only the academics seeking to understand how the disease spread, but also the farmers, policy-makers and regulatory authorities who must control it.
For example, in 2007 some scientists claimed that sea lice, common on many salmon farms, would lead to the extinction of pink salmon in a number of important rivers in British Columbia within a decade. While other scientists contested the assertion, it illustrated the importance of comprehensive data sets and analytical tools that could provide scientists, government officials and farmers alike the hard evidence they needed to understand and control the spread of the disease.
As Canada Research Chair in Population Health: Epi-Informatics, Dr. Crawford Revie is exploring new ways to use techniques from informatics—such as data mining, data-driven modelling and semantic web technologies—to gain a better understanding of disease epidemiology. As the size and complexity of databases linked to human and animal diseases continue to grow, these techniques are becoming essential to the analysis and study of disease transmission.
By applying informatics methods to the understanding and modelling of diseases, Revie’s research will lead to improved monitoring and treatment strategies, as well as more sustainable approaches to livestock and aquaculture production.